Williams and McDermott fought out a tense battle over 12 rounds
Danny Williams held onto his British heavyweight title with a controversial points victory over John McDermott in Dagenham on Friday.
With the fight apparently in the balance, Williams was docked two points in the 11th round and one in the 12th.
That appeared to hand victory to Essex fighter McDermott, 28, but the judges had other ideas.
Williams, 35, was awarded a majority decision that left him looking as surprised as many watching.
"Of course I'm relieved," said Williams, "but it is the same ref that robbed me against Michael Sprott when I easily outboxed him, and he deducted points off me ridiculously.
"Allah was watching over me and I got the decision despite the referee trying to take it off me."
He added: "I still think I've got it. John boxed out of his skin against me. It was a world title fight for him.
"I've fought Tyson - this was like a comedown for me."
McDermott said: "I thought I'd won. I got a sore rib and thought I'd broken it in the third round.
"I just gritted my teeth, I showed a warrior's heart. This is the first day I've shown myself as a real champion."
After a quiet start, Williams looked to be taking control with his heavier shots before the momentum shifted in the fifth round.
A McDermott uppercut caught Williams flush on the chin and the man who once beat Mike Tyson had to cling on desperately to get through the remaining two minutes of the round.
It appeared that Williams had seen off the real danger and was edging towards victory when referee Dave Parris stepped in.
Parris docked the champion three separate points in the last two rounds, for a low blow, pushing away McDermott and then spitting out his gumshield.
That was not enough to stop the judges giving Williams a 114-113 114-111 113-113 win, but the champion's pre-fight talk of a realistic world title challenge looks to be optimistic.